Something shocking has been going on with the SNRI antidepressant drug Effexor since the drug was listed in the 2015 list of drugs to be banned, published by the European Medicines Agency ¹. Equally shocking, there are hundreds more drugs banned in Europe, but not in the US or Canada.
Various drugs, about 700 in number including Effexor, were originally approved based on what we now know was false information and discredited testing results. A company called GVK Biosciences reported false and misleading information to the FDA and elsewhere. Based on this information, Effexor (and 700 other drugs) were approved for marketing to the public. This fiasco was uncovered by French inspectors in 2014. As a result, health regulators banned Effexor in Malta, Poland, The Netherlands, Portugal and Germany. But the FDA’s and Health Canada’s silence hangs as eerily as a cloud of fog over a toxic swamp.
Black Box Warning Inadequate
The black box warning on Effexor (venlafaxine) informs only of increased risk of suicidality. No other warnings are listed. However, The New England Journal of Medicine published a 2004 article ² citing important information from clinical research concerning babies affected by pregnant or nursing mothers taking antidepressants.
Some of their findings included:
- Antidepressants doubled the number of miscarriages and still births compared to the control group (not on medication).
- Antidepressants quintupled premature births.
- Antidepressants tripled birth defects relating to congenital heart malformations.
- Infants exposed to antidepressants have a six-times greater risk of a fatal lung problem called persistent pulmonary hypertension.
- One third of women who take antidepressants have had a baby who died, was premature, or suffers seizures.
Effexor Lack of Success
Quite apart from the harm to infants and suicidality and violent psychosis in children, teens, and adults, a combined majority of those taking Effexor either report no positive effect, or adverse effects, leading to wanting to stop the drug. Effexor withdrawal is difficult to accomplish due to the extreme reactions encountered when stopping the drug.
Women who become pregnant may also decide to come off an SNRI drug to avoid the risks mentioned above. Young people who were prescribed the drug (despite the warnings on the black box not to) may experience suicidal thoughts and are also likely to want to come off the drug. Not exactly a success story.
The FDA warns never to stop Effexor abruptly; always seek medical oversight and guidance to stay safe.
Effexor and Brain Damage
SNRI drugs are thought to influence and degrade the delicate neurochemistry of the CNS and brain in at least two major ways. Effexor creates an overabundance of norepinephrine, or the hormone called adrenaline. At the same time, the drug also causes a temporary buildup of serotonin which is a down-regulating or inhibitory neurotransmitter. In effect, SNRI drugs gun the gas pedal while stomping on the brakes. Pfizer might better have called this drug “Jekyll and Hyde”. Or perhaps “the two-headed monster of a pill”.
Drugs do not create more hormones or neurotransmitters, they only use them up. Eventually, these two hormones (serotonin and norepinephrine) atrophy, becoming useless, leaving the person in a deficit of both. Studies have begun to reveal that SNRI’s make changes to the workings of the brain that may become permanent. In any case, there is little to no success to report, and even more tragically, much destruction that has hurt an awful lot of people over the years.
Lack of Information Can Be Dangerous
One must remain vigilant and alert because of the conspicuous lack of information provided by our regulatory bodies. Where prescription drugs like Effexor are concerned, it’s “buyer beware”. One should do one’s own research carefully and thoroughly, and seek out non-harmful treatment options before agreeing to something that statistically is likely to inflict such abhorrent risks.
Many people have had success with holistic, drug-free treatments to alleviate emotional distress and suffering. Thankfully, there are more and more physicians and caregivers who have become aware of the dangers of unnecessary and even permanent damage caused by prescription drugs like Effexor. Keep informed. Keep safe.
(1) Products for which the marketing authorisations are recommended for suspension by the CHMP on 21 May 2015, European Medicines Agency, EMA/344050/2015, (Effexor listed under generic name “Venlafaxine”), http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Other/2015/05/WC500187078.pdf
(2) First-Trimester Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors and the Risk of Birth Defects, New England Journal of Medicine 2007; 356:2675-2683, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa067407